I have a genealogy site online, I get a lot of request for suggestions for finding one’s ancestors. I decided I needed to come up with a list I can cut and paste for each time I get the request, but it seems even better placed here so all I need do is cut and past a URL. This is what I've done:
I often search through rootsweb's world connect project for help. You need to be careful because there is a lot of incorrect information there. Some people just copied other people’s incorrect information. I always look for ones that have sources other than someone else’s gedfile. I double-check the sources. I’ve bought entire books before just to check a source. Sometimes I can find it on-line, and if not, I do a library search to see if the Special Collections Library has the source in town.
RootsWeb World Connect
Special Collections Library in Alburquerque, NM
Search for books online
Search for Libraries for a Special Book
There are other sources, but to find the people closest to you, you may need to write or call the places where these people were born to get their birth records. If you can go back at least a couple of generations it is a lot easier. The net becomes much easier to use as a tool once you have a few generations.
GenWebs, I've had some great help from local GenWebs, especially the Saunders County, Nebraska GenWeb. There I found the grave sites of three generations of my mother's family on both her maternal and paternal sides. I found the grave sites of my mother's grand mother and great grandfather by writing to one of the people who was listed on the Erie county, Pennsylvania GenWeb site. I found the grave stones of my father's maternal grandparents from the Soccoro County GenWeb Site. And marriage records from the Virginia GenWeb Site.
Google Books, this helped me more with my New England ancestors, especially the earlier ones. I typed in their names in the google book search and some of the records that came up were of books or even journals that I was able to read the whole book. I have a google membership, which allowed me to see more of some of the books than I could otherwise. I did a google search for records of Lynn, Massachusetts and this is what I came up with.
Google searches, there are a lot of people out there these days with genealogy on the web. Google the names, but check their sources. A lot of incorrect stuff is on line, and I'm still cleaning up the incorrect things I found on line. Below is a photo of the grave site of one of my ancestors I found by a google search. I also found a cousin connected to this photo.
Censuses are great help. I’ve found amazing information going through census records. Thomas Jefferson had the first U.S. census taken in 1796. Every decade, another was taken, but it wasn’t until the 1850 census that entire families were written down, not just the “head” of the household. You can find census on microfiche at state archives, libraries, Mormon family history libraries, some GenWebs have some censuses for their area, ancestry.com, genealogy.com, and HeritageQuest on-line.
My best advice is to check and see if your library system has HeritageQuest online available to their cardholders. HeritageQuest is harder to use the ancestry.com, and doesn't have as many records, but they do have censuses. I've had better luck with ancestry.com on the censuses. If you can access HeritageQuest, it is free, whereas ancestry.com is not free. HeritageQuest online has lots books. It helps to know the title of the source your looking for. There have been times I've found entire genealogies from a single search. Check with your library. They may have access, they may know how you can gain access, or they may consider getting this great resource.
Incomplete list of Libraries with access to Heritage Quest OnLine.
Another great resource that has just been opened is the Family History Archive from the Utah Genealogy Society and BYU. They have just begun, but I have high hopes for them in the future. The Other Luna Family can be found on line there, and unless you live in Alburquerque & go to the Special Collections library, it is pretty difficult to get a copy of this book. Because my 2Xgreat grandmother was a descendent of “the other Luna Family,” I photo copied the entire book at the genealogy library a year ago. It would have been a lot easier to simply download a digitized copy, like they one at the Family History Archive.
The RootsWeb & Genealogy.com forums might be helpful. Genealogy people are all addicts like myself, and they love sharing their enthusiasm and information. They have forums by surname and by location.
Genforum at genealogy.com
Genealogy societies help too. We have two great ones in town, but I have purchased books from Societies in other states via the Internet. My state and the Hispanic genealogy groups in town have translated volumes of Spanish Church records and Spanish censuses. Looking through microfiche is hard enough, but I’m not that great at translating Spanish into English.
Family name associations can help. The Sears and Walker family associations were great help for me. I found them on-line. These societies are best when they deal with people of the family name. I found that the Walker family association led me astray when it came to some of the ancestors of the folks Walkers married.
Last, but hardly least, Cyndi's List has links to everything dealing with genealogy on the web.
I have a page full of genealogy links especially for New Mexico and New England that you might also want to check.
My Genealogy Links